What success looks like 2022-06-28T14:30:37.358Z
EA retreats are really easy and effective - The EA South Germany retreat 2022 2022-04-14T12:09:55.873Z
Where would we set up the next EA hubs? 2022-03-16T13:37:21.242Z
Idea: Red-teaming fellowships 2022-02-02T22:13:28.566Z
EA Analysis of the German Coalition Agreement 2021–2025 2022-01-24T13:25:14.388Z
EA megaprojects continued 2021-12-03T10:33:53.467Z


Comment by Yannick_Muehlhaeuser on What We Owe The Future is out today · 2022-08-17T12:22:21.744Z · EA · GW

Congratulations to the team that did the media outreach work for the book - looks like you guys did an incredible job!  

Comment by Yannick_Muehlhaeuser on Call for action for German university groups! · 2022-02-05T11:40:01.761Z · EA · GW

Another thing that came to my mind recently. In Germany many EA meetups are still held in english. Maybe there are some people who would be open to EA ideas, but having to listen and more importantly speak english before people they don't know comes with extra effort. So at the beginning the hurdle for joining may be a just a bit higher. 

Comment by Yannick_Muehlhaeuser on Call for action for German university groups! · 2022-02-02T22:04:16.155Z · EA · GW

From my limited experience with Fachschaften, they don't seem like they are being overrun with new members. Maybe there are some where it's different. 

Comment by Yannick_Muehlhaeuser on Call for action for German university groups! · 2022-02-02T16:25:30.758Z · EA · GW

I meant it more in the sense that students might either not even attend university on a regular basis or not be at a point where they don't really value intellectual pursuits that much. Or they might just be registered at the university for some  legal and administrative privileges. 

But your right, in one sense it also can be an advantage. 

Comment by Yannick_Muehlhaeuser on Call for action for German university groups! · 2022-02-02T13:27:58.867Z · EA · GW

I have thought about this topic a lot, so I am always excited what other people think about the question. I basically agree with all the explanations you came up with and I think they explain most of the difference. 

There is another points I think might be part of the explanation: Many highly engaged EAs are very ambitious and often highly intelligent. Those are the kinds of people that would be much more likely to attend highly competitive universities like Oxford or Cambridge. So if you just look at the EA-potential of the set of students at one of those Unis, I just think it's a lot higher than at the average University in Germany where no such selection effect exists and students don't differ that strongly between cities.

Additionally, due to the absence of tuition in Germany a lot of  german students seem to not take their studies very seriously, so the percentage of students registered at the university that would invest significant time in a local group is reduced before even looking at things like value alignment and stuff. 

From my experience small EA groups are often stuck in a bad equilibrium. Without many members it becomes challenging to do many events. A lot of the responsibility will rest on the shoulders of the organizer(s), but those are often less motivated if only a few people attend the events. This might even lead to them investing less time in the future. The exact opposite happens if a group is on an upward trajectory in membership. 

Overall I fully share your opinion that we need much more ambition and a spirit of optimism and I am excited for the future of the Göttingen local group! 

Comment by Yannick_Muehlhaeuser on EA Analysis of the German Coalition Agreement 2021–2025 · 2022-01-29T10:03:18.935Z · EA · GW

I am personally also very unsure of how to feel about european federalism. At this present moment it seems to me there is neither a strong political majority for further political integration, nor is there one for a significant roll-back. I expect the next years to be about management of the status-quo.

While I think that a federal EU would be desirable in principle, at the present moment the risk of backlash seems high enough to me that I don't think EAs should invest resources into pushing for it. Although if such a push were to happen, there seem to be many opportunities in the steering of this process, as I expect it to be in large part elite-driven.

Comment by Yannick_Muehlhaeuser on EA Analysis of the German Coalition Agreement 2021–2025 · 2022-01-24T16:23:00.833Z · EA · GW

I agree in general that depending on Russia for your energy is concerning. However, two points:

(1) Given that it is possible to import  LNG from the US (although more expensive), energy dependence on Russia is always in a sense chosen and needs itself to be explained.

(2) This is just one data point, but at least in 2017 german dependence on gas was not higher than neighbouring countries.

Comment by Yannick_Muehlhaeuser on The Turing Test podcast is back with Bryan Caplan! · 2019-04-29T11:56:28.917Z · EA · GW

Great Interview.

Comment by Yannick_Muehlhaeuser on Why doesn't the EA forum have curated posts or sequences? · 2019-03-21T14:41:25.558Z · EA · GW

Wasn't it announced at launch, that this would be implemented at some point?

Comment by Yannick_Muehlhaeuser on Combination Existential Risks · 2019-01-16T13:37:52.940Z · EA · GW
I think people who think about existential risk should devote some of their energy to thinking about risks that are not themselves existential but might be existential if combined with other risks. For example, climate change is not an existential risk, but it plausibly plays a role in many combination existential risks, such as by increasing international tensions or by rendering much of the globe difficult to inhabit. Similarly, many global catastrophic risks may in fact be existential if combined with other global catastrophic risks, such as a nuclear war combined with a pandemic.

I think those would be called 'Context Risk'. I haven't read that word in many places, but i first heard of it in Phil Torres' book about x-risks.

Comment by Yannick_Muehlhaeuser on What’s the Use In Physics? · 2019-01-04T17:27:50.247Z · EA · GW

Very good post, thank you for collecting everything.

I'd be interested in a closer look into the field of energy (especially nuclear fussion, modern nuclear energy technology), i don't really know if there are neglected areas or positions.

Comment by Yannick_Muehlhaeuser on What’s the Use In Physics? · 2019-01-04T17:25:45.959Z · EA · GW

Not an expert on the foundations of QM, but a few points on your question:

  • For some interpretations the mathematics does change somewhat (e.g. Bohmian Mechanics, Collapse Theories)
  • Some interpretations actually do make testable predictions (like the Many Wolds Interpretation), but they tend to be quite hard to test in practice
  • Some people have argued that some interpretations follow more naturally from the mathematics. It's pretty clear in my opinion that Bohmian Mechanics is postulating additional structure on top of the mathematics we have now, while many-worlds is not really doing that.
Comment by Yannick_Muehlhaeuser on [Link] "Would Human Extinction Be a Tragedy?" · 2018-12-21T01:00:51.774Z · EA · GW
How many human lives would it be worth sacrificing to preserve the existence of Shakespeare’s works? If we were required to engage in human sacrifice in order to save his works from eradication, how many humans would be too many?

This strikes me as a good way of making people think of the distinction between instrumental- and terminal values.

Comment by Yannick_Muehlhaeuser on Critique of Superintelligence Part 1 · 2018-12-20T22:55:39.465Z · EA · GW

I don't see how using Intelligence (1) as a definition undermines the orthogonality thesis.

Intelligence(1): Intelligence as being able to perform most or all of the cognitive tasks that humans can perform. (See page 22)

This only makes reference to abilities and not to the underlaying motivation. Looking at high functioning sociopaths you might argue we have an example of agents that often perform very well at all most human abilities but still have attitudes towards other people that might be quite different from most people and lack a lot of ordinary inhibitions.

This should become clear if one considers that ‘essentially all human cognitive abilities’ includes such activities as pondering moral dilemmas, reflecting on the meaning of life, analysing and producing sophisticated literature, formulating arguments about what constitutes a ‘good life’, interpreting and writing poetry, forming social connections with others, and critically introspecting upon one’s own goals and desires. To me it seems extraordinarily unlikely that any agent capable of performing all these tasks with a high degree of proficiency would simultaneously stand firm in its conviction that the only goal it had reasons to pursue was tilling the universe with paperclips.

I don't agree, i personally can easily imagine an agent that can argue for moral positions convincingly by analysing huge amounts of data about human preferences, that can use statistical techniques to infer the behaviour and attitude of humans and then use that knowledge to maximize something like positive affection or trust and many other things.

Comment by Yannick_Muehlhaeuser on How Effective Altruists Can Be Welcoming To Conservatives · 2018-12-20T22:35:24.573Z · EA · GW

Good and important points. I feel maybe the same care should be taken towards people who have various kinds of anti-capitalist beliefs.

Comment by Yannick_Muehlhaeuser on Response to a Dylan Matthews article on Vox about bipartisanship · 2018-12-20T22:23:05.940Z · EA · GW

I share you irriation with this article. This struck me as a normal opinion Vox opinion piece, which never should have been postet on Future Perfect.

I think some of your points of criticism might be explained by the fact that we had to/wanted to keep the article below a certain length. But i also believe that when Dylan writes for Future Perfect about such political topics, he should make sure to argue every point carefully as well as be especially rigorous and careful in his arguments.

Comment by Yannick_Muehlhaeuser on Announcing PriorityWiki: A Cause Prioritization Wiki · 2018-06-20T05:37:59.675Z · EA · GW

was trying to figure out how opinionated the Wiki should be

Certainly an important question. 80k certainly explains why they don't recommend certain careers and it's important for them to continue to do so. In my opinion we should make our reasons for considering a cause effective very clear, so they can be challenged. In practice, of course, how such an entry depends strongly on the wording. I would prefer to word it like "Cause X has traditionally been considered not neglected enough/not tractabe/too small by EA organisations. ... According to that reasoning you'd have to show Y to establish X as an effective cause. ..." instead of "X is not effective, because ...".

Comment by Yannick_Muehlhaeuser on Remote Volunteering Opportunities in Effective Altruism · 2018-05-13T20:56:25.122Z · EA · GW

Thank you, this was very helpful. I think to possibility to do volunteer work remotely is something that should be stressed more and also communicated in EA local groups more frequently.

Comment by Yannick_Muehlhaeuser on The Importance of EA Dedication and Why it Should Be Encouraged · 2018-05-06T18:14:33.783Z · EA · GW

I share the impression that dedication is less encouraged in EA these days than five years ago

Not sure i agree with this. Certainly there is less focus on donating hug sums of money, but that may also be explained by the shift to EA Orgs now often recommending direct work. But i think the EA community as a hole now focusses less on attracting huge ammounts of people and more on keeping the existing members engaged and dedicated and influencing their career choice (if i remember correctly the strategic write-ups from both CEA and EAF seem to reflect this).

For instance, the recent strategy write-up by CEA mentions dedication as an important factor:

We can think of the amount of good someone can be expected to do as being the product of three factors (in a mathematical sense):

  1. Resources: The extent of the resources (money, useful labor, etc.) they have to offer;
  2. Dedication: The proportion of these resources that are devoted to helping;
  3. Realization: How efficiently the resources devoted to helping are used

But i agree that there is a lot of focus on 'talent' and dedication seems to take a second role behind it. This may be defensable but i think that we could probably stress dedication a bit more, because talking about 'dedication' may turn less people of than talk about 'talent'. To me talent seems more like something you have while dedication seems like something that 'merely' requires willpower. I would generaly be more worried about 'lacking talent' than 'lacking dedication', but I don't really know how many people share that intuition.

Comment by Yannick_Muehlhaeuser on Concrete Ways to Reduce Risks of Value Drift and Lifestyle Drift · 2018-05-06T17:48:51.650Z · EA · GW

There's probably something to be gained by investigating this further, but i would guess that most cases of value drift are because a loss of willpower and motivation, rather that an update of one's opinion. I think the word value drift is a bit ambigious here, because i think the stuff you mention is something we don't really want to include in whatever term we use here. Now that i think about it, i think what really makes the difference here are deeply held intuitions about the range of our moral duty and so for which 'changing your mind' doesn't alway seem appropriate.

Comment by Yannick_Muehlhaeuser on Announcing the Effective Altruism Handbook, 2nd edition · 2018-05-04T21:19:57.066Z · EA · GW

Reading the book as Epub in iBooks, in enumerations there are often certain sentences that have a bigger font size than the normal text (for instance in the section "A Proposed Adjustment to the Astronomical Waste Argument"). I can't post a picture here but i don't think it was intendet to be that way. Hope that helps.

Comment by Yannick_Muehlhaeuser on Announcing the Effective Altruism Handbook, 2nd edition · 2018-05-02T12:33:27.713Z · EA · GW

If i could only recommend one book to someone should i recommend this or Doing Good Better? Not really sure about that. What do you think?

Comment by Yannick_Muehlhaeuser on Heuristics from Running Harvard and Oxford EA Groups · 2018-05-02T12:29:43.359Z · EA · GW

Very helpful post. As someone running an german EA group i didn't really find anything that doesn't apply to us in the same way it did for you.

One interesting thing is your focus on 1on1 conversations: We have never attempted something like this, mostly because we thought it would be at least a bit weird for both parties involved. Did you have the same fear and where proven wrong or is this a problem you run into with some people?

Comment by Yannick_Muehlhaeuser on Empirical data on value drift · 2018-04-24T08:52:52.353Z · EA · GW

Thank you very much for this important work. This should be an important consideration for everyone and an important factor in career planning. I'll make sure to say something about that in our local EA group at some point.